Obama administration moves closer to seismic testing for Atlantic oil

The Obama administration yesterday moved closer toward allowing oil and gas drilling off seven Atlantic coast states for the first time in decades, establishing guidelines for seismic testing that would gauge offshore reserves.

Although geophysical research companies will still have to apply for individual permits to conduct seismic studies in the area, and undergo more environmental scrutiny of their specific plans, the Interior Department's decision opens the door for the activity - and for possible drilling off the U.S. east coast in the 2020s.

Environmental groups oppose the action, saying tests would pose serious risks to species including sea turtles and some whales, and calling seismic testing “a gateway drug to offshore drilling.”


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Comments (19)
  • PalmDesertRat
    , contributor
    Comments (3766) | Send Message
    The east coast contains a large proportion of the US population. These folks consume a large proportion of the fossil fuels produced elsewhere. It's only fair that they should be exposed to some of the environmental risks that much of the rest of the country is exposed to. They should shoulder their fair share of the burden and the heck with the environmental groups. Do it for the common good.


    I'm sure the politicos will come up with a whole raft of new rules and regulations to make the process so expensive that even the Sierra Club will be happy.
    18 Jul 2014, 11:54 PM Reply Like
  • Uncle Pie
    , contributor
    Comments (4322) | Send Message
    Drilling in the Atlantic Ocean right offshore from densely populated areas where there may or may not be any oil is a better alternative than just piping in Canadian oil which IS already there via the Keystone pipeline? How does this make any sense?
    19 Jul 2014, 10:35 AM Reply Like
  • robgra
    , contributor
    Comments (993) | Send Message
    You expect anything this administration does to make sense?
    19 Jul 2014, 11:59 AM Reply Like
  • Daniel5150
    , contributor
    Comments (266) | Send Message
    @Uncle Pie.


    Your right, it makes no sense. And the first two words in this article's title is all you need to come to that conclusion..Obama Administration.
    19 Jul 2014, 12:00 PM Reply Like
  • Randal James
    , contributor
    Comments (4415) | Send Message
    The ban on Atlantic drilling has been in place since the early 1980's. That was during the tenure of Ronald Reagan and he was followed by oilman George Bush I. Son of oilman GB I also had plenty of time to swing at it and apparently did not. That is 20 years in office and nothing from people you admire (I'd guess).


    Obama proposed lifting the ban in 2010 but the proposal was scrapped following that lovely Gulf spill from the Deepwater Horizon. Studies have also shown that Obama did not cause that spill.
    19 Jul 2014, 12:09 PM Reply Like
  • Craig Cooper
    , contributor
    Comments (2774) | Send Message
    We have a long way to go before drilling will be allowed to take place along the east coast. This BOEM Record of Decision (ROD) pertains only to Federal offshore acreage and does not authorize any O&G - related activities. Federal offshore acreage ranges from 3 - 200 nautical miles from the coastline. State - controlled acreage ranges from the coastline - 3 nautical miles.


    Per the National Environmental Policy Act, this ROD spells out the government's recommended plans & procedures (termed 'mitigation measures' in the ROD) for safeguarding the environment during performance of geophysical & geological (aka G&G) programs.


    All applications to the Federal government for permission to conduct G&G activities must include an Environmental Impact Statement (including a company's proposed mitigation measures) along with a detailed description of proposed activities. BOEM is responsible for approving / rejecting permit requests. The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) is responsible for monitoring and enforcing terms within approved permits.


    Many of BOEM's recommended mitigation measures will be viewed as too onerous, not necessary and / or over-regulation by some and woefully inadequate and / or under-regulation by others.


    Drama, lawsuits, political wrangling, fear - mongering, extremism, et al will ensue. We have a long way to go.
    19 Jul 2014, 12:48 PM Reply Like
  • neilc38@msn.com
    , contributor
    Comments (71) | Send Message
    Obama did not cause the Macondo spill. However, he is responsible for delaying the immediate remediation efforts offered by the Netherlands, Norway and Great Britain. Although Obama has a law degree, he nevertheless condemned BP for almost a full year before the completed investigations conducted by the Coast Guard and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE).
    19 Jul 2014, 04:09 PM Reply Like
  • wsiert
    , contributor
    Comments (2) | Send Message
    Reagan couldn't swing during his term due to Democrat controlled House. Bush had four years of his eight where the House and Senate were barely Republican controlled. But oil ranged from $30 dollars a barrel in 2003 (not cost effective to drill) to about $70 for a few months about the time control went back to the Democrats in 2007...Pelosi controlled House. Due some history the Republicans have controlled the House, Senate and Presidency only FOUR years out of the last 82! Democrats got full control of all three branches for 38 years of the 82.
    19 Jul 2014, 04:46 PM Reply Like
  • yalcocer
    , contributor
    Comments (17) | Send Message
    Offshore oil is usually light oil. Keystone pipeline should transport heavy oil. Both complement each other. North America is better off increasing both supplies. Refineries require a blend of both. Increasing oil supply from different sources increase energy security due to increase security of supply.
    21 Jul 2014, 09:19 AM Reply Like
  • citigroup regnum
    , contributor
    Comments (94) | Send Message
    Even just testing should be purely commercial. Interested sectoral entities have to buy concessions.


    Probability that there is oil and gas under The Atlantic is relatively high... Similar geomorphology as in Norvegian waters can mean similar underground conditions...


    Submarine units of U.S. Navy can launch some drilling probes... and based on preliminary results concessions should be granted.
    19 Jul 2014, 10:45 AM Reply Like
  • fhbecker
    , contributor
    Comments (282) | Send Message
    The US typically offers 3 x 3 mile blocks for offshore oil and gas leases. During a U.S. lease sale, vetted companies are allowed to bid for the offered blocks. I have seen bids range from $500,000 to +$150,000,000. The high bidding company then must pay a rental each year. Leases run for 3 -10 years depending on water depth. If commercial quantities of hydrocarbons are found via the drill bit then the blocks can be held longer, to allow for production to be established. Once production is established the government takes a royalty of the production and still collects the annual rental. When production ceases, then the blocks reverts to the government.


    Prior to bidding companies use seismic, remote sensing, seafloor cores etc. This work is typically done by commercial contractors, I have never seen the U.S. Navy involved.


    Several dry holes have already been drilled off the U.S's east coast. It is likely that hydrocarbons exist there. However with natural gas so cheap in the U.S, think only Oil will have a shot at being commercial, unless a world class (huge) gas accumulation is found.
    19 Jul 2014, 12:08 PM Reply Like
  • june1234
    , contributor
    Comments (4350) | Send Message
    Win win proposal for the admin. It's an election year. enviro groups vote for them anyhow and leaves em plenty of time till 2020's to oppose it
    19 Jul 2014, 10:58 AM Reply Like
  • Robin Hewitt
    , contributor
    Comments (5473) | Send Message
    "Win win proposal for the admin. It's an election year." LOL -- yeah Obama's running for a third term.
    19 Jul 2014, 02:02 PM Reply Like
  • SoldHigh
    , contributor
    Comments (991) | Send Message
    Environmental groups oppose any policy that brings the USA closer to energy independence. They would prefer an energy policy of "Arab Oil."
    19 Jul 2014, 11:19 AM Reply Like
  • Randal James
    , contributor
    Comments (4415) | Send Message
    “...a gateway drug to offshore drilling.”


    Earning our first nomination of the day for stupid metaphors...


    The USA has roughly 1450 miles of Atlantic Coast from Me. to the Florida Straits (probably does not include Key West). If the economic region of 200 miles is used, this represents an area of about 290,000 square miles or an area larger than Texas or Sweden. It is entirely likely that a great deal of this zone will be too deep or in other ways untenable. Suppose, for instance, that the outer Banks has promising sites - no one can ignore the severity of hurricanes that often threaten the region.


    But to just say no is similarly short-sighted. There has been an active campaign in NY to get the certification of Indian Point Nuclear Plant removed. It provides about a third of NYC's electricity and the environmentalists often say we can just make up the difference with conservation. Measures, one presumes, that must include 7pm curfews and rolling blackouts. Some of the same groups have successfully banned fracking in NY. I can only imagine that a portion of the donations for such a ban came from operators in the Marcellus and still-hopeful coal interests.


    I live in Washington and while I love the forests, it is logical to manage these resources for mixed-uses with set asides for conservation and wilderness. The coastal resources, if there are any, should be managed the same way and with as much thoughtful regulation as is as responsible as it should be (a lot). I believe there is only a tiny amount of refining capacity in the East, so it could be an economic boom for states willing to embrace a somewhat unattractive industry.


    Oil has remade the economies of states such as North Dakota and even Colorado. The generous donation of funds from gas interests in Wyoming led to the football field at the U. of Wyoming being cleverly renamed "Jonah Field." Even Iowa is bracing for the possibility that there may be oil in them thar cornfields and Texaco is one doing the seismic work. It would appear shortsighted to deny Atlantic states the same opportunities because of an outright ban.
    19 Jul 2014, 11:58 AM Reply Like
  • King Rat
    , contributor
    Comments (1612) | Send Message
    I laughed at that quote too. A "gateway drug" is a substance some people get hooked on who had no intention of taking the more powerful, addictive, and damaging substance.


    Here the intention is quite clear. Americans need oil. If there is oil there then there is intent to drill. Oil has been drilled in and around California for over 100 years and yes, whales migrate through those waters. As left wing as CA is, if CAns can accept oil without going full-on NIMBY, then perhaps the East Coast Elite can, too.


    Besides, look at property prices in CA. That may not be because of oil, but you can hardly argue that oil has hurt much. Property prices in the Dakotas follow likewise.
    19 Jul 2014, 01:33 PM Reply Like
  • Mike Maher
    , contributor
    Comments (2862) | Send Message
    IF Atlantic city is smart they'll try to become a hub of where the offshore workers come into and out of. That city needs industry in the worst way.
    19 Jul 2014, 11:59 AM Reply Like
  • psychological-dividends
    , contributor
    Comments (820) | Send Message
    I cannot believe the crazy environmentalist political lobby has not immediately brought this to a close.


    "a gateway drug to offshore drilling.” haha, oh dear
    19 Jul 2014, 02:10 PM Reply Like
  • Joe Lunchbox
    , contributor
    Comments (678) | Send Message
    Drill baby, drill!
    19 Jul 2014, 02:31 PM Reply Like
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